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Mitt Romney claims he has a common sense immigration position. That's believable as long as you don't actually read the legislation he embraces. Once you do, it is hard not to see his position as cynical, immoral, and utterly disqualifying.

Take the law South Carolina passed in 2011.

Look for work, seek shelter, or use transportation without appropriate documents? You have committed a felony, subject to up to five years imprisonment.

Give a ride or a room to a friend or family member you know, or ought to know, is here illegally? Same felony.

Have a green card, but don't have it available to present on demand? That's a misdemeanor, subject to up to 30 days imprisonment.

The law also gave any citizen the right to sue government agencies they felt weren't enforcing the law with sufficient zeal, essentially letting Rush Limbaugh's craziest listener decide how the law would be implemented.

Anyone who can read the above and not realize the potential for inconvenience, harassment, and intimidation of anyone with, say, brown skin, or whatever some wingnut decides is a "foreign" accent, isn't living in the real world.

While all that's unpleasant, it isn't the worst part of the bill. Not remotely.

For that, you have to turn to the section which claims to sanction employers who hire undocumented workers. Romney suggests that this is a reasonable, even humane approach. He argues it removes the "magnet" which encourages people to disregard the immigration laws. He likes to say that once people can't find work, they will self-deport, eliminating the need for a wider crackdown.

If you take the trouble to look up all the subsections of South Carolina's State Code the law references in its 'Definitions' section, however, you realize just how cynical the bill's supporters really are. Section 12-8-10, subsection D, part one specifically excludes "agricultural services performed by an employee on a farm". Section 12-8-10, subsection D, part two excludes "domestic services performed in a private residence".

In other words, the law was carefully crafted to give employers safe haven to hire undocumented workers to pick their crops, tend their animals, and wash their Cadillacs. It was simultaneously designed to leave those employees more cowed and vulnerable than at any time since the Jim Crow era. It is a perfect example of, to borrow President Obama's apt phrase, Romney's 'one-point-plan' to cater to the most powerful in society at the expense of everyone else.

Shortly after Governor Nikki Haley signed the South Carolina Immigration law, President Obama's Justice Department sued to block its implementation.

Mitt Romney criticized that action and pledged that if he were president, he would support South Carolina's law. (youtube link; the video clip is about halfway in)

House Republicans, including Paul Ryan, voted earlier this year to prohibit the Justice Department from pursuing its lawsuit. Without a Democratic Senate and President, they would have prevailed.

You could not ask for a clearer contrast.

(As always, this is cross-posted at There are some more detailed legislative links posted there as well.)

Originally posted to Ganesh Gunasekaran on Thu Oct 18, 2012 at 01:31 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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